October is observed as “National Physical Therapy Month (NPTM)” in the United States – an opportunity to amplify and promote the profession of physical therapy (PT) and raise public awareness about the potential benefits of PT. Sponsored by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the major objective of this campaign is to spread awareness about the key role that physical therapists and physical therapy assistants play in helping people find relief from pain, improve mobility and overall functional ability, and live healthier, more physically able lives.
Chronic pain is regarded as the major cause of long-term disability in the United States, with more than 20% of US adults living with chronic pain. The practice of opioid over usage for chronic pain treatment has become a public health concern in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out that opioid usage has literally quadrupled within the country (from 1999 to 2016). It is found that patients continue to misuse and are overprescribed opioids for pain management. This statistics is quite staggering considering there is no reduction in the amount of pain that is reported by patients throughout the country. The prominent role of physical therapy in chronic pain management becomes evident at this juncture. Physical therapy is a safe and effective non-surgical alternative to opioids and helps resolve different pain conditions such as back pain, shoulder pain and neck pain, thereby helping people stay healthy, fit and active. PT involves a combination of modalities aimed at easing pain symptoms and improving mobility and flexibility.
The 2018 monthly campaign is about promoting physical therapy for pain management over opioids, which is something many physical therapists are passionate about. Initially, the campaign was observed as “National Physical Therapy Week” in the month of June 1981. Later, in 1992, this week-long campaign was extended to a full month and October was proclaimed the official month for the observance.
Over the years, the scope of this campaign widened and has become a recognized celebration in the National Health Observances Calendar. For the 2018 event, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has established a “#ChoosePT” campaign to bring increased awareness about the opioid epidemic and the role of physical therapy in safely managing pain. As part of the “#ChoosePT” initiative, the APTA aims to reach out to the general public and educate them about the potential benefits of incorporating healthy lifestyle habits and spread more awareness about the importance of physical therapy exercise programs. By helping people manage pain with physical therapy and exercise, physical therapists hope to play a major role in combating the opioid crisis.
Physical therapists and health care clinics encourage their communities to become more active throughout the month of October, by organizing a wide variety of events like free public posture screenings, balance assessments, fun runs, distributing handouts and materials and conducting physical therapy quiz programs in schools and colleges. In addition, you can stay active on popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and use the hash tag #ChoosePT to promote the concept of physical therapy over opioid usage in your community.
Join National Physical Therapy Month celebration. Make use of this opportunity to raise awareness about the benefits of physical therapy and how it can be used to counter opioid addiction.